Following qualification at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) and a year in general small animal practice, Walt returned to the OVC for four years of post-graduate training. He then spent 12 years in general and referral practice in Canada before going on to hold a range of non-clinical roles. For the last four years, he has been an active member of the WSAVA Executive Board and WSAVA Global Pain Council. In his ‘day job’ he is a Technical Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Canada Ltd.
What inspired you to become a veterinarian?
Ever since I can remember I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was the neighbourhood ‘go to’ person for sick or orphaned wildlife and found helping them very rewarding.
You’ve held a variety of roles – clinical and non-clinical. Tell us about some of them.
I’ve always focused on companion animals and found complicated cases and diagnostic challenges fascinating so moved from first opinion practice to the OVC to undertake an internship followed by a residency. At a time when referral practice was in its infancy, I was involved in expanding a referral service at a private clinic in Canada. I am particularly proud of my work to introduce the Global ISO microchip into North America – and it was this project that first brought me into contact with the WSAVA. I later worked as editor of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association and have also been involved in the setting up of a pet insurance company in North America.
Pain management has been a focus of your work with the WSAVA recently. Why is it so important?
One of the most common questions veterinarians are asked is ‘Is she/he in pain?’ Based on our Hippocratic oath, it is also one of the greatest opportunities we have to make a positive difference to our patients. Unfortunately, there is a wide variation in pain assessment and management around the world and we must work together to eliminate it. Our Global Pain Guidelines are a practical, downloadable resource to assist practitioners in recognizing and assessing pain and we are delighted that they have been endorsed by so many of our members.
What are your goals for your Presidency?
While we have come a long way in a short time, we know that there is more to do and I’ll be working with the WSAVA Executive Board and Committee Chairs to build on what we have achieved and to work towards the fundamental goal of the WSAVA Strategic Plan – to develop our global community into an educated, passionate and collaborative group of veterinary peers.
We will also make our voice heard on issues that affect our members and impact their ability to care for their patients to the highest standards. Our campaign against the proposed rescheduling of ketamine and our new initiative to secure the availability of medicinal products for companion animals to veterinarians wherever they are working, are good examples.
What do you do outside work to relax?
I love being outside with my wife June, an avid gardener, and our two grown up children, Jessica and Cory. Summer often finds us enjoying our Northern Ontario cottage getaway with our two yellow Labradors!